Large-area freestanding gold nanomembranes with nanoholes†
Thin metal films with nanohole arrays have opened up new opportunities in applications ranging from plasmonics to optoelectronics. However, their dependence on substrates limits not only their performance but also other application possibilities. A key challenge to overcome this limitation is to make these nanostructured films substrate-free. Here we report large-area freestanding gold nanomembranes with nanohole arrays fabricated using a replication-releasing procedure. The structures maintain spatial uniformity and pristine quality after release across the entire membrane up to 75 cm2 in area and as thin as 50 nm. The freestanding nanomembranes show significantly enhanced optical transmission and effective field extension compared to the same nanomembranes on substrates. A plasmonic coupling resonance with a 2.7 nm linewidth achieves a record figure-of-merit of 240 for refractive index sensing. The gold nanomembranes can be geometrically converted to 3D microstructures by an ion-irradiation-based kirigami technique. The transformed micro-objects can be precisely controlled via geometry design and strategic cutting. Furthermore, we find the presence of nanoholes can significantly change the in-plane modulus of the gold nanomembranes. Finally, the freestanding gold nanomembranes can be transferred to non-planar substrates, enabling their future integration with advanced optical and electronic systems for emerging applications.